Gone Manny Gone
Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras wanted to focus on business, not baseball, and the Red Sox called their bluff, sending the future Hall-of-Famer to Los Angeles and getting a younger slugger in return
Agent Scott Boras can finally put down the cue cards. His next big client is on his way out of Boston, and eventually, on his way to free agency.
That's what this was all about. It wasn't about hating Boston. It wasn't about "being at peace." It wasn't about feeling disrespected by management. It was about one thing, and one thing only: money.
The Red Sox had team options on Manny Ramirez for 2009 and 2010, each worth $20 million a season. When Ramirez hired Boras in February, that one-year, $20 million option immediately became useless to Team Manny.
Boras had his eye on a bigger prize, and yet another multi-year deal for his client. He told Manny that he could go out and get him another $100 million deal, if the Red Sox didn't pick up his option year(s).
(Enter Happy Manny Ramirez, showing up on time for spring training.)
So while Manny looked poised to have another big season, he said all the right things early on in Fort Myers, Fla. He said Boston was where he wanted to retire. He said he was happy. He made it look as if he hadn't had any previous conversations with Boras about how he could become a free agent after season's end.
(Meanwhile, back in Boras' Bat Cave)
The blueprint to achieving such a goal would require several, yet not impossible, foolish acts that would make Red Sox ownership cringe.
Act 1: Get involved in an altercation with a fellow player, one that will make the media and fans wonder who to side with, and get physical, but don't injure, a fellow clubhouse attendant.
(Enter Kevin Youkilis and Jack McCormick)
Act 2: Make several careless outfield plays to make ownership cringe even more.
(Enter Fan High Five, and laughable roll over ball in left field)
Act 3: Take a few shots at Red Sox ownership for not picking up the option years, and relate it to other fan favorites' contract situations in the past.
(Enter Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, and whatever stupid Manny quote over the past week you want to throw in)
Act 4: Threaten to not give 100 percent down the stretch.
(Enter "sore knee" against Felix Hernandez and Joba Chamberlain)
This "Boras blueprint" was created months ago. It was a step-by-step process that could only be perfected by the most unpredictable ballplayer on the planet. And as of 4 p.m. on Thursday, that plan was perfected so much so, that the Red Sox agreed to not just pay for the remainder of Manny's 2008 salary, but also give up two more players in Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen, in order to rid themselves of one of the best hitters in the game.
Moss was never going to see consistent playing time in Boston, and Hansen didn't seem to answer any questions in the team's bullpen. But they were players that were coveted by other teams looking for young talent. And instead of dealing them for some middle relief help, Boston decided, at the final hour, that it couldn't deal with Manny any longer, and pulled the trigger on a three-way trade that sent Ramirez to the Dodgers, Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Moss, and Hansen to the Pirates, and Jason Bay to the Red Sox.
Boston's front office has two goals: win a World Series, and build for the future. It could be possible that the Red Sox had planned from day one, that they weren't going to pick up Ramirez' contract years; that they would offer him arbitration and let him walk while accepting draft picks. They could have already had enough of "Manny being Manny" in past years that it's possible they already made their decision, no matter how well he performed in 2008. They may have been willing to focus on their goal of winning now, and have sacrificed the future to keep Ramirez, and just let him walk for nothing in return.
Instead, Manny, with Boras' guidance, decided to stick it to baseball, and focus on business. Once that happened, it was time for the Red Sox to focus on the future, and to get something in return for Manny now.
(Enter Jason Bay)
Los Angeles was willing to accept Manny for the playoff run, and Pittsburgh was willing to give up one of its big bats while taking in a few young players. It was the perfect scenario for the Red Sox. Not only would they rid themselves of an ongoing headache, but they got an extremely productive player in return, satisfying the needs of the future, and the present.
Keeping Manny in a Red Sox uniform undoubtedly gave Boston its best chance of repeating as World Champions. But Manny decided to make it about himself, and chose to find a way to become a free agent and cash in one last time, rather than win another title.
And once he made that business decision, it was time for the Red Sox to act in a business-like manner themselves. It was clearly time for both sides to part ways, but it was Manny who chose it had to end now. So for Boston, Ramirez will never be replaced. But acquiring Bay was the next closest thing out there, and they acted upon it.
With this deal, the Red Sox can now still contend for the division, there is no question about the offense. The only question is in the bullpen. If Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima can get back to their 2007 form, then this team won't face any setbacks with Bay in the lineup. The Red Sox just have to hope they aren't paying for Manny to hit home runs against those guys in the World Series.
But don't blame it on the Red Sox. Blame it on Scott Boras.